Today’s Campaign Update (Because the Campaign Never Ends)
One of the most depressing aspects of Attorney General William Barr’s ongoing conduct of his job is his current campaign to have the FISA law renewed without a single modification. Coming as it does directly in the wake of the report by DOJ IG Michael Horowitz identifying no fewer than 17 instances in which highi-ranking DOJ/FBI officials lied to the FISA court in order to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump Campaign/Transition Team/Administration during 2016 and 2017, this insistence on a “clean” renewal of this dangerous law is simply inexcusable.
Barr is assuring Senators that they don’t need to fix the law because he personally will see to it that real reforms of the process are implemented within the DOJ and FBI. But if the administrative reforms offered by Christopher Wray – which consist essentially of a couple of yearly on-line “training” sessions – are any indication, that’s just another deflection by people who have no intention of actually fixing anything or punishing anyone.
Appearing on Fox Business last night, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made some very astute remarks about the current debate that people need to listen to. Below is a clip of his interview with host Greg Jarrett, followed by some outtakes from his comments.
First, the clip:
— stealth bubba (@StealthBubba) February 28, 2020
Fitton: Certainly, the process as it is set up isn’t protecting anyone’s rights. The FISA Court didn’t do its job; certainly they were the victims of a criminal conspiracy, But even when exposed, they haven’t held those responsible accountable. Forget about the Durham investigation: The FISA courts have inherent authority to investigate any criminality before the court, and I’m not seeing any evidence it is interested in doing that. If I were DOJ and FBI, I would have offered to help the court do that, but of course, DOJ and FBI are just pretending to quote, reform the system here.
The President has inherent constitutional authority to spy on foreign nationals. He doesn’t need FISA courts to do so. That authority is there, whether or not there is a FISA court. The FISA court is kind of like the War Powers Act – it’s kind of an uneasy compromise among the branches to try to restrain a presidential power that [congress] does not have the constitutional authority to restrain.
The key reform is to put people in jail who abuse the process criminally. This reform game is just that: A game. You know, Barr may have a credible point of view when he says, just renew it. Because the reform isn’t going to fix it in the sense that there’s no penalty for criminally violating the rights of American citizens.
The President’s a crime victim, and no one’s done a darn thing about it thus far. My thinking is that DOJ doesn’t even want to do anything [regarding reforms] during this period when FISA reforms are being debated, because they want the FISA court to continue operating.
Judicial Watch found – we had to force it out of the Justice Department – they admitted the FISA courts held not one hearing on any of the four FISA applications…on warrants targeting a candidate for president and a President of the United States. Why the heck have a FISA court if that’s the rubber stamp approach it takes?
The other key point here is that we still don’t have all the information. We still don’t know what else is in those FISA warrants. We don’t have all the text messages; we don’t have all the emails. So, they’re telling us they’ve got a handle on the problem; well, we don’t know the full extent of the problem and the full extent of the potential criminality.
The President is right to be skeptical of being rushed into approving this without any of the full information needed for any serious person to make a decision here.
Jarrett: In 2002, Comey was beaten up by the FISA court for his agents lying to the Court. He promised to institute reforms called the Woods procedures. And what happened? His agents went about circumventing those procedures, and of course we saw it in the Carter Page case. I’ve seen this film before; I know how it ends.
Fitton is right, of course: The one “reform” that would create a sure and long-lasting chilling effect on further abuses of the FISA process by FBI and DOJ officials would be to see Barr and Durham issue indictments targeting those who we know criminally abused the process in 2016/17: James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and on and on it goes.
Sadly, there is little indication that Barr has the slightest intention of pursuing real justice for any of those wrongdoers. Trusting Barr – who has repeatedly praised the worthless apparatchik Wray – to do anything real in terms of implementing “reforms” internally that would prevent future abuses is a fool’s errand.
I am generally opposed to Republicans in the Senate joining Democrats in filibusters, but this effort to renew the FISA law is a needed exception to the rule. Republican libertarians like Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz should be working to form a bipartisan coalition opposing ANY renewal of this dangerous statute until visible efforts to bring the known abusers of the system to justice are publicly taking place. Then, and only then, should the DOJ be trusted again with the use of this law.
That is all.
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